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News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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We Are Garbage

IN OUR MIND’S eye, the grey, cratered landscape of the moon is untouched. Up there, still, are the iconic first human footprints, the American flag, and a plaque that reads, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon, July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

After five decades on the moon, however, the flag has begun to surrender to the elements. Bleached by harsh UV rays from the sun, the stars and stripes have disappeared, and the nylon has faded to white. But the Americans didn’t just plant one flag on the moon; they planted six. And space travellers have left a much heavier footprint than simple human tread marks. Littering the lunar surface are 181,000 kilograms of forgotten trash.

According to NASA, along with ninety-six bags of urine and vomit, there are old boots, towels, backpacks, and wet wipes. With no garbage cans at hand, the astronauts also littered the landing site with magazines, cameras, blankets, shovels. And, after several international missions, there are now seventy spacecraft on the surface, including crashed orbiters and rovers.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Can We Survive Extreme Heat?

News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

On a scorching day in downtown Phoenix, when the temperature soars to 115°F or higher, heat becomes a lethal force. Sunshine assaults you, forcing you to seek cover. The air feels solid, a hazy, ozone-soaked curtain of heat. You feel it radiating up from the parking lot through your shoes. Metal bus stops become convection ovens. Flights may be delayed at Sky Harbor International Airport because the planes can’t get enough lift in the thin, hot air. At City Hall, where the entrance to the building is emblazoned with a giant metallic emblem of the sun, workers eat lunch in the lobby rather than trek through the heat to nearby restaurants. On the outskirts of the city, power lines sag and buzz, overloaded with electrons as the demand for air conditioning soars and the entire grid is pushed to the limit. In an Arizona heat wave, electricity is not a convenience, it is a tool for survival.

As the mercury rises, people die. The homeless cook to death on hot sidewalks. Older folks, their bodies unable to cope with the metabolic stress of extreme heat, suffer heart attacks and strokes. Hikers collapse from dehydration. As the climate warms, heat waves are growing longer, hotter, and more frequent. Since the 1960s, the average number of annual heat waves in 50 major American cities has tripled. They are also becoming more deadly. Last year, there were 181 heat-related deaths in Arizona’s Maricopa County, nearly three times the number from four years earlier. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2004 and 2017, about a quarter of all weather-related deaths were caused by excessive heat, far more than other natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

Still, the multiplying risks of extreme heat are just beginning to be understood, even in places like Phoenix, one of the hottest big cities in America. To Mikhail Chester, the director of the Metis Center for Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University, the risk of a heat-driven catastrophe increases every year. “What will the Hurricane Katrina of extreme heat look like?” he wonders aloud as we sit in a cafe near the ASU campus. Katrina, which hit New Orleans in 2005, resulting in nearly 2,000 deaths and more than $100 billion in economic damage, demonstrated just how unprepared a city can be for extreme climate events.

Read the rest of this article at: RollingStone

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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On the last night of March 2012, Justin Trudeau climbed into a boxing ring in downtown Ottawa, the Canadian capital, intent on rescuing his public image. He was clad in a lustrous red robe, the colour of the Liberal party, for which he was then a junior member of parliament. In the opposite corner, wearing Tory blue, was a young aboriginal leader and Conservative senator named Patrick Brazeau, who is a former navy reservist and a second-degree black belt in karate. Bookies had given the lanky Trudeau, a former high school teacher, three-to-one odds against.

The televised match was ostensibly a fundraiser for cancer research, but in Ottawa it became a sensation – a display of partisan pageantry rarely seen in the staid world of Canadian politics, where “bland works” had been the watchword of one long-serving provincial premier. The fight’s symbolism was lost on no one: in recent years, the Conservatives had battered the Liberals, turning a narrow lead in the 2006 election into a majority government by 2011. The Liberal party, which had governed Canada for much of the 20th century, had been reduced to a historically low number of seats.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Rich Can’t Get Richer Forever, Can They?

News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville, at the age of twenty-five, was sent by France’s Ministry of Justice to study the American penal system. He spent ten months in the United States, dutifully visiting prisons and meeting hundreds of people, including President Andrew Jackson and his predecessor, John Quincy Adams. On his return to France, he wrote a book about his observations, “Democracy in America,” the first volume of which was published in 1835. Many of the observations have weathered well (he noted, for instance, how American individualism coexisted with conformism). Others have not. For example, Tocqueville, who was the youngest son of a count, was deeply impressed by how equal the economic conditions in the United States were.

It was, at the time, an accurate assessment. The United States was the world’s most egalitarian society. Wages in the young nation were higher than in Europe, and land in the West was abundant and cheap. There were rich people, but they weren’t super-rich, like European aristocrats. According to “Unequal Gains: American Growth and Inequality Since 1700,” by the economic historians Peter H. Lindert and Jeffrey G. Williamson, the share of national income going to the richest one per cent of the population was more than twenty per cent in Britain but below ten per cent in America. The prevailing ideology of the country favored equality (though, to be sure, only for whites); Americans were proud that there was a relatively small gap between rich and poor. “Can any condition of society be more desirable than this?” Thomas Jefferson bragged to a friend.

Today, the top one per cent in this country gets about twenty per cent of the income, similar to the distribution found across the Atlantic in Tocqueville’s day. How did the United States go from being the most egalitarian country in the West to being one of the most unequal? The course from there to here, it turns out, isn’t a straight line. During the past two centuries, inequality in America has been on something of a roller-coaster ride.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 08.28.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The west is being destroyed, not by migrants, but by the fear of migrants. In country after country, the ghosts of the fascists have rematerialised and are sitting in parliaments in Germany, in Austria, in Italy. They have successfully convinced their populations that the greatest threat to their nations isn’t government tyranny or inequality or climate change, but immigration. And that, to stop this wave of migrants, everyone’s civil liberties must be curtailed. Surveillance cameras must be installed everywhere. Passports must be produced for the most routine of tasks, like buying a mobile phone.

Take a look at Hungary, where Viktor Orbán has forced out the Central European University and almost destroyed the country’s free press and most other liberal institutions, using immigrants and George Soros as bogeymen. Or Poland, whose ruling party purged the judiciary, banished political opponents from government media, greatly restricted public gatherings and passed a law, modified only after an international outcry, making it a crime to accuse Poland of complicity in the Holocaust. Or Austria, where the neo-Nazis in the governing coalition want to fail kindergarteners for not knowing German. Or Italy, where a fanatically anti-immigrant coalition that won power is now going after the Roma. All these rode to power, or intensified their grip on it, like Orbán, by stoking voters’ fear of migrants, promising to ban new immigrants and to take away the rights of immigrants already in the country. Once in power, they energetically set about depriving everyone else of their rights, migrants or citizens.

It is a successful strategy for the fearmongers. Driven by this fear, in country after country voters are electing leaders who are doing incalculable long-term damage. And some liberal politicians blame not the fearmongers or the people who vote for them – but the migrants. “Europe needs to get a handle on migration,” declared Hillary Clinton in November 2018. It “must send a very clear message – ‘We are not going to be able to continue to provide refuge and support’ – because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.”

The economist Jennifer Hunt tells a story about visiting Germany recently and listening to people making the liberal argument against letting in refugees: “If we let these people in, we’ll have the far right in government.” Hunt’s response: “If you don’t let these people in, you’ve already become a far-right government.”

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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